susanah’s journal – xmas party

From the journal of Miss Susanah Wellington (1819-1838) of Yeovil, Somersetshire.

SW_DIARY_p6a

2nd. We had a letter from Mrs D Marshall informing us she would not be able to pay us a visit on account of the weather.

3rd We had our Xmas family party: the young men & Mr Vincent supped here.

15th Uncle Smith & Uncle Tom came down and spent Sunday with us.

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In Susanah’s previous journal entry of December 1836, we read about Rev Jukes and the Jews meeting.

The Wellingtons of Yeovil had friends and family visiting for the 1837 new year holidays. The weather was very bad. Heavy snow started to fall on Christmas Eve, 1836. There was a great east-north-easterly gale and snowstorm on 25th and 26th. Many lives as well as livestock and crops were lost. Roads throughout England were impassable for days, snow 5 to 15 feet (1.5 to 4.5 metres) deep in many places, a few great drifts 20 to 50 feet (6 to 15 metres).

extract from a report on the snow storms from Sherborne Mercury, 02 January 1837.

An extract from a newspaper report, gives an idea of how the severe weather impacted life throughout England. Western Flying Post, Sherborne and Yeovil Mercury, 02 January 1837.

The snow storms in late December 1836 covered the roads in large drifts. The regular stage and mail coaches were disrupted which brought business to a stand-still. The stage coaches and mail coaches could not get through, goods and shipments could not be delivered, and general trades could not do business or work outdoors in such bad weather.

George Cruikshank_abc_0004

Illustration of a bountiful Christmas feast from a Comic Alphabet, designed, etched and published by George Cruikshank, 1836.

The Wellington family held their Christmas party on the 3rd of January. It may have been a tradition to celebrate with family in the new year, or their gathering was delayed due to the bad weather. Susanah mentions the young men and Mr Vincent shared Christmas supper with the family. The “young men” may have been the chemist apprentices and shop assistants in her father’s employ. Mr Vincent was probably a family friend.

On the 15th January Uncle Tom and Uncle Smith visited the family in Yeovil. Thomas SAMSON (1806-1879), was a younger brother of Susanah’s mother Elizabeth SAMSON (1764-1833). Uncle Smith was William SMITH (1801-1879) the husband of Elizabeth’s youngest sister Susannah Sharp SAMSON (1806-1843). They lived in Wayford, about 20 kilometres (12.5 miles) south-west of Yeovil in Somerset. You can read more about the SAMSON family connections here.

I am sure Susanah enjoyed good cheer with her family and friends in spite of the cold and miserable weather, which continued well into March, April and May. The English Spring of 1837 still holds the record of the coldest ever seasonal average at just 5.6 degrees C.

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Sources: Susanah Wellington’s Journal, BUCK family collection. You can read more about it here: susanah’s journal – somerset to sydneywww.dorsetshire.com. You might like to see other work by George Cruikshank; British Newspaper ArchiveHistorical Weather Events.

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susanah’s journal – rev jukes & the jews

From the journal of Miss Susanah Wellington (1819-1838) of Yeovil, Somersetshire.

SW_DIARY_p4&5

Poor Wm Etheridge died on the 2nd of November 1836 his funeral sermon was preached by Mr Jukes at his chapel on Sunday Evening Novr 13th 1836.

January 1st 1837. Mr Ewald and Mr Davis preached two sermons in behalf of the Jews 30 pounds were collected at the doors. 2nd The Jews Meeting was held at the Mermaid Inn.  When we returned we found quite a large party assembled in our dining room from Martock.  Sophia Vining was with us.

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I found a notice in the Salisbury & Winchester Journal, Monday 14 November 1836:

Died, at Yeovil, on Wednesday, the 2nd inst., aged 18 years, after a few days’ illness, of effusion on the brain, William, fourth son of Mr. H. Etheridge, auctioneer. He was a very promising youth, and much and deservedly respected in the circle in which he moved.

William’s parents were Henry and Ann. Henry ETHERIDGE was a surveyer, auctioneer, real estate and insurance agent. William ETHERIDGE was born 24 June 1818 and christened in an Independent Chapel in Yeovil on 26 July 1819.

Auction of dwellings by Mr Etheridge, Sherborne & Yeovil Mercury, 02 June 1834.

Auction of dwellings by Mr Henry Etheridge, Sherborne & Yeovil Mercury, 02 June 1834.

Mr John JUKES was a protestant non-conformist minister of the Independent Chapel in Yeovil, aligned with the Baptists. Mr JUKES served on the Yeovil Board of Health during the 1830s, along with Dr John PENKIVIL and chemist George WELLINGTON. Rev JUKES ran a school in Yeovil until 1835 when he resigned from teaching to concentrate on his ministry.

Rev John Jukes relinquished his school in Yeovil at the end of 1835, probably to concentrate on his ministry. Sherbourne & Yeovil Mercury, 19 October 1835

Rev John Jukes relinquished his school in Yeovil at the end of 1835.  Sherbourne & Yeovil Mercury, 19 October 1835.

Susanah mentions that on the first day of 1837 there were two sermons preached and 30 pounds collected “on behalf of the Jews”. When I first read this journal entry I wondered if the sermons and donations were in aid of Jews that were persecuted and displaced from their homelands in Europe. Not so.

It appears from this advert in the Sherbourne & Yeovil Mercury, the Christian congregation were on a mission of conversion rather than of aid or charity. The meeting of the London Society for Promoting Christianity Amongst the Jews was held at the Mermaid Inn and Mr EWALD and Mr DAVIS were in attendance.

A notice for a meeting similar to the one Susanah mentions in her Journal. Sherborne & Yeovil Mercury, 26 December 1836.

A newspaper notice for the meeting Susanah Wellington mentions in her journal. Sherborne & Yeovil Mercury, 26 December 1836.

This 1839 painting of High Street, Yeovil by Henry Burn (1807–1884) shows the Mermaid Inn archway and large overhanging sign on the left. The building on the other side of the street is a “Chemist, Grocer, Druggist” shop.

This 1839 painting of High Street, Yeovil by Henry Burn (1807–1884) shows the Mermaid Inn archway and large overhanging sign on the left.

After the family returned home from their meeting, they found “quite a large party from Martock” in their dining room. Not much to go on here but they were most likely cousins – John WELLINGTON (1774-1845) and his wife Ann MARTIN (1774-1852) and their children. John WELLINGTON was a chemist and the elder brother of George WELLINGTON, chemist of Yeovil – Susanah’s father.

Sofia VINING was the youngest sister of James Tally VINING who was married to Mary Webb WELLINGTON. Sofia/Sophia VINING (1824-1848) was 12 years old, around the same age as Susanah’s sister Rosa WELLINGTON (1823-1889).

It has taken me quite a long time to research and identify all the players in this journal entry, but it is amazing the resources now available online at the British Newspaper Archives.

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Sources: Susanah Wellington’s Journal, BUCK family collection. You can read more about it here: susanah’s journal – somerset to sydney. British Newspaper Archives

susanah’s journal – wild beast show

From the journal of Miss Susanah Wellington (1819-1838) of Yeovil, Somersetshire.

SW_DIARY_p4a

Frederick went to Sherborne School July 1836. In October 1836 there was a wild beast show here the animals were very good though the collection was small.

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Susanah’s younger brother Frederick George Noble WELLINGTON (1824-1887), was sent to boarding school at Sherborne in July 1836, a few months before his 12th birthday.

A short history on the school’s website tells us Sherborne School was founded in the mid-16th century under the auspices of the monastery at Sherborne, and survived the Reformation to become established as a Free Grammar School during the 17th and 18th centuries. The school took on its current form as a boys’ boarding school in the early 19th century.

Rachel Hassall, Archivist at Sherborne School provided me with information she had from the school registers:

  • Frederick George Wellington, son of G. Wellington, Yeovil. Arrived 1836 – left 1839.
  • William Wellington, son of George Wellington, Yeovil. Arrived ? – left 1830.

William Edwards WELLINGTON (1813-1850) was Frederick’s elder half-brother. William was 17 when he finished his education at Sherborne. We went to work in his father George’s chemist shop in Yeovil and took over his uncle John WELLINGTON’s (1774-1845) chemist and grocery businesses in South Petherton and Martock in 1845.

Frederick was 15 years old when he left school and was apprenticed to his father and half-brother William. Frederick George Noble WELLINGTON took over the business in South Petherton after William’s death in 1850. You can read more on Frederick here.

Watercolour of Sherborne School by Walter Tyndale

Watercolour of Sherborne School by Walter Tyndale (1855–1943).

What a shame Frederick missed the wild beast show in Yeovil in 1836. I wonder what animals they had on exhibition?

The University of Sheffield’s National Fairground Archive has a wealth of information on the history of fairs, circuses and travelling menageries, here are some of the highlights:

The travelling menagerie evolved at the town fairs. A canvas was usually erected on poles with the animal cages or trailers lining the sides. The public paid for admission to view the exotic species. Most visitors to these wild beast shows would never have the opportunity to see such animals in their daily lives so their arrival in a town would cause great excitement.

In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century there were several menageries travelling – amongst the better known are Polito, Ballard, Pidcock, Miles and Wombwell.

Animal_Bear

Thomas Frost, in The Old Showmen, and the Old London Fairs (1875) cites the following example from 1743:

This is to give notice to all Gentlemen, Ladies, and others, that Mr Perry’s Grand Collection of Living Wild Beasts is come to the White Horse Inn, Fleet Street, consisting of a large he-lion, a he-tiger, a leopard, a panther, two hyenas, a civet cat, a jackal, or lion’s provider, and several other rarities too tedious to mention. To be seen at any time of the day, without any loss of time. Note: This is the only tiger in England.

Animal_Tiger

As colonial expansion brought further and more regular contact with remote regions, birds and animals unseen in Europe arrived at the ports. Collectors encouraged sailors to return with animals from the exotic ports they visited. It is believed George Wombwell started his menagerie with two snakes bought from a sailor at the Port of London.

Animal_Reptiles

There is an interesting advert in the Bristol Mercury and Universal Advertiser from September 1807:

Extraordinary Reptiles
Amongst the Number of Natural Curiosities arrived in this City, there seems none to equal or rival the Two wonderful Siboya Serpents. Those Ladies and Gentlemen who have already seen these extraordinary Reptiles, are so highly gratified with the sight of them, that the Proprietor flatters himself, from their high Recommendation that all ranks of people will gratify their curiosity, as they are undoubtedly the only ones of the Kind ever exhibited in the kingdom alive. To be seen at a commodious room at the White Swan, St. James’s Back. N.B. The Proprietor gives the utmost value for Foreign Birds and curious animals.

Animal_Parrots

As the trade in exotic animals developed they were stocked in dealers’ yards forming the basis for permanent animal exhibitions in zoological gardens. The exhibition of new and bizarre animals was seen as both entertaining and educational. Scientists and naturalists found that observing live animals was a much better way to classify the variety in the natural world than studying long-dead and stuffed specimens. This gave impetus and respectability to the menageries.

Animal_Kangaroo

The exhibition practices of the menageries changed over time, as the population grew more accustomed to the species on display, a variety of extraordinary gimmicks and tricks were required to draw the crowds. Entertainments such as the following were reported in the Clifton Chronicle and Directory of 3-6-1868:

Musical Prodigy
Of all Modern Prodigies certainly the most prodigious is the Royal Modern Musical Elephant at Wombwell’s which plays several popular airs and polkas, by Handel, not known to be by that immortal composer, a fact which beats “Creation” or any other Oratorio – or Menagerie.

Animal_Elephant

By 1850 the travelling menageries, with their big cats, trumpet-playing elephants, dancing stallions and boxing kangaroos, were amalgamating with acrobats, strong men, bearded ladies and clowns from fairground sideshows. They formed the big top circuses such as Astley’s Amphitheatre in England, Barnam & Bailey in the United States and Ashton’s Circus in Australia which began in Tasmania in 1847.

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Sources: Susanah Wellington’s Journal, BUCK family collection. You can read more about it here: susanah’s journal – somerset to sydney.  Rachel Hassall, Archivist, Sherborne School Archives. Transcript of travelling menageries is taken from The University of Sheffield’s National Fairground Archive websiteThe nineteenth century animal illustrations are from Designs of Nature, Pepin Press, 1997.

You may also like to read:

two penny worth of arsenic

the runaway apprentice

the chemist shop that time forgot

susanah’s journal – 51 leeches

From the journal of Miss Susanah Wellington (1819-1838) of Yeovil, Somersetshire.

SW_DIARY_p3a

After my return from Weymouth I spent a month at Stalbridge with Sarah & Mrs White and a few days at Marnhull which I enjoyed very much. Soon after my return I had another severe attack though not so violent as my last illness. I was again obliged to apply leeches to my chest which amounted to 51 from the 5th of May 1836 but I am thankful to God I am now much better though still not very strong.

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Susanah spent a month visiting with her recently married half-sister Sarah. She and her husband James DAVIS lived in the small market town of Stalbridge, Dorset, situated about 20 km east of Yeovil. The marriage notice for the newly-weds confirms that James DAVIS was in the same profession as his father-in-law George WELLINGTON.

Davis-Wellington marriage notice in the Bristol Mercury, Saturday 16 January 1836

Davis-Wellington marriage notice in the Bristol Mercury, Saturday 16 January 1836

I have no clues in my research as to who Mrs WHITE was. She was most likely a family friend or a relative of James DAVIS. The journal’s chronology suggests Susanah spent July 1836 in Stalbridge and Marnhill.

When she returned home to Yeovil her health deteriated and she had another bad attack of pulmonary tuberculosis. The doctor was consulted and, unfortunately for Susanah, the treatment he prescribed so ease her fever and chest congestion was bleeding with leeches.

TRADE_Surgeon_Leech_01

The use of leeches in medicine exploded during the mid-1800’s. There was such a high demand for Hirudo medicinalis, that its population in the wild was almost wiped out in England and Europe. Physicians would prescribe the leeches for all types of illnesses – everything from headaches to pneumonia and even anaemia. The blood-suckers were prescribed so often by physicians, that doctors were actually referred to as “leeches”.

In an article Breathing a Vein published in November 2011 on www.phisick.com, Dr Laurie Slater writes:

The bleeding of patients, practised since Babylonian times probably represents the most widespread application of ‘quackery’ in the history of medicine. The complexity of humoral theory was such that doctors could promote their own rationale for bleeding in almost any circumstances.

Poor Susanah suffered a life-threatening lung and chest infection as well as having her life-blood drained from her every few weeks. 51 leeches within three and a half months – is it any wonder she was not feeling very strong? Susanah celebrated her 17th birthday on the 20th August 1836, I hope she was well enough to enjoy herself with family and friends.

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Sources: Susanah Wellington’s Journal, BUCK family collection. You can read more about it here: susanah’s journal – somerset to sydneyMedical antiques and historical information courtesy of www.phisick.com.

Related Posts:

  1. susanah’s journal – eclipse of the sun

  2. susanah’s journal – weymouth 1836

  3. george wellington’s letters

  4. diseases and remedies of the 1800s

 

susanah’s journal – weymouth 1836

From the journal of Miss Susanah Wellington (1819-1838) of Yeovil, Somersetshire.

SW_DIARY_p2b

The summer of 1836 we all went to Weymouth. Papa took Mr Welsfords house on Green Hill. I enjoyed myself pretty well considering I could not walk out but was obliged to submit to be drawn in a wheel chair.

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Susanah fell very ill in May of 1836 [read about it here] and, to aid her recovery, her father George WELLINGTON took the family to the seaside in Dorset for the summer.

Map of Weymouth and Melcombe Regis (c1830) by R. Creighton.

Map of Weymouth and Melcombe Regis (c1830) R. Creighton.

The harbour towns of Weymouth and Melcombe Regis became popular after 1789 when King George III was advised to “take the waters” to help with his medical conditions. George III visited the area regularly over the next fifteen years, even taking a dip in the sea in one of the first bathing machines. With his patronage, the King changed the fortune of Weymouth, and many of the buildings along the seafront were built during his reign. When the King went on vacation the court came as well, and of course the newspapers reported the event. Weymouth became ‘the place to be’ in the summer.

Weymouth print circa 1870 [www.dorsetshire.com]

Weymouth print circa 1870 [www.dorsetshire.com]

By 1836 royal patronage of Weymouth had wained and the town become a holiday destination the middle class could afford. The Wellington family rented a house at the east end of Weymouth Bay on Green Hill. I’m sure Susanah and her sisters enjoyed social events and shopping with friends, as well as taking strolls along the esplanade and meeting new acquaintances.

Invalid wheelchairs from the 1800s. [image reblogged from www.biomedicalephemera.tumblr.com]

Invalid wheelchairs from the 1800s. [image reblogged from http://www.biomedicalephemera.tumblr.com]

Poor Susanah was still too weak to walk distances and had to submit to travelling about in a wheelchair. I hope the fresh air and good company improved her health. The English summer lasts four months in theory, but that doesn’t reflect the true number of clear and sunny days to be had in that season. I wonder how long the family stayed in Weymouth? Maybe just for the month of June?

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Sources: Susanah Wellington’s Journal, BUCK family collection. You can read more about it here: susanah’s journal – somerset to sydneywww.dorsetshire.comwww.biomedicalephemera.tumblr.com

susanah’s journal – eclipse of the sun

From the journal of Miss Susanah Wellington (1819-1838) of Yeovil, Somersetshire. Her diary includes copies of letters and a record of the last few years of her life.

SW_DIARY_p1b

On the 4th of May 1836 I walked to Brympton and walked back the next morning all in the wet. I was very ill & my Mamma sent for Mr Wm Shorland on the 15th of May I was bled which was the Sunday the eclipse of the sun. I was very ill the whole of the day. Mary and her children, Sophia, Mrs Groves & her family were at Weymouth.

SW_DIARY_p2a

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Susanah was a healthy sixteen year old in the Spring of 1836, and had a fairly active social life. She and her sister Jane visited with friends and also taught music to children of families within their acquaintance.

I don’t suppose that the WELLINGTON family were friends with the Countess of Westmorland and her daughter Lady Georgiana FANE who lived at Brympton d’Evercy near Yeovil. Although, it is said that Lady Georgiana FANE had an affair with the Duke of Wellington (who was no relation to our family).

Brympton manor was on a very grand estate and Susanah may have been friends with many of the families employed there. She probably stayed overnight with a school friend in the household and then walked back to Yeovil the next day in the rain.

Brympton d’Evercy manor house circa 1860 [Wikipedia – scan of a photo of c.1860 in an album put together by William/Emily Fane de Salis of Teffont].

Brympton d’Evercy manor house circa 1868 [Wikipedia, scan of a photo in an album put together by William/Emily Fane de Salis of Teffont].

Susanah came down with a cold which developed into influenza and a fever. Her father George WELLINGTON was a chemist. He would have recommended various tonics to ease her cough and maybe a mustard plaster or poultice to help relieve her congestion and fever.

With no improvement after ten days her mother called for Mr William SHORLAND, a physician in Yeovil. Unfortunately for Susanah the most common treatment for illnesses such as fevers and phlegm congestion was bleeding a sick person or applying hot cups to a patient to “balance the humors”.

Humorism, the now discredited theory of the makeup of the human body, was adopted by the Ancient Greeks and Romans and sadly it was still the most widely-held view of the human anatomy among European physicians in the early 19th century. Essentially, the theory held that the human body was filled with four basic substances called “humors” (black bile, yellow bile, phlegm and blood) which are in balance when a person was healthy. All diseases and disabilities resulted from a deficiency or imbalance of these fluids.

Methods of treatment like bloodletting, emetics and purgatives were aimed at expelling a harmful surplus of a humor. In Susanah’s case, with chest congestion and fever, Dr SHORLAND would have recommended bloodletting, by either scarification or lancing a vein in her arm, or by applying five or six leeches on her chest. Each leech might ingest 5ml to 10ml blood in an application leaving the patient weaker than they were before the treatment and with open wounds that were susceptible to further infection.

A good 18th century pewter bleeding bowl with graduated markings from 2 to 16 fl oz on the inside so as to measure the amount of blood taken. [photograph courtesy of www.phisick.com

An 18th century pewter bleeding bowl with graduated markings from 2 to 16 fl oz on the inside so as to measure the amount of blood taken. Photograph courtesy of http://www.phisick.com

You can read more about the various treatments for influenza, typhus and cholera in my post diseases and remedies of the 1800s. The www.phisick.com website has a great collection of antique medical instruments and historical information.

In October and November of 1835 Halley’s Comet appeared in the sky for the first time in 75 years. It was visible to the naked eye for about two weeks in October. With the renewed interest in astronomy it was reported in the newspapers there would be four eclipses in 1836 – two of the Sun and two of the Moon. As only two would be visible in the northern hemisphere, the partial eclipse of the Moon on 1 May and the annular eclipse of the Sun on 15 May 1836 were widely anticipated events in Great Britain. I doubt if Susanah was well enough to go out into the garden and view the eclipse.

Eclipse drawing from "Fourteen Weeks in Descriptive Astronomy" by J. Dorman Steele, 1873 (Barnes and Co., NY).

The Great Eclipse of the Sun 1836. Francis Baily noticed beads of light around the rim of the moon just before and after the maximum stage of the eclipse, later named ‘Baily’s Beads’ in his honor, they are caused by sunlight shining through lunar valleys. Photograph courtesy of http://www.sunearthday.nasa.gov

Susanah also writes “Mary and her children, Sophia, Mrs Groves & her family were at Weymouth”. These ladies are all Susanah’s older half-sisters, who were enjoying a holiday at the seaside in May 1836:

  • Mary Webb WELLINGTON (1808-1832) was married to solicitor James Tally VINING. Their two sons were James Wellington VINING and baby George Charles VINING.
  • Sophia WELLINGTON (1810-1839) was unmarried and aged 26.
  • Elizabeth Blackaller WELLINGTON (1805-1885) was married to chemist Simon GROVES of Blandford Forum in Dorset. Their three children were Elizabeth Wellington GROVES, Wellington Edwards GROVES and Frances GROVES.

You can read more about the VINING and GROVES families in my article George Wellington’s Letters.

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Sources: Susanah Wellington’s Journal, BUCK family collection. You can read more about it here: susanah’s journal – somerset to sydneyWikipedia – Brympton d’Evercy; Medical antiques and historical information courtesy of www.phisick.comThe National Archiveswww.bcmj.org/premise/history-bloodletting.

susanah’s journal – yeovil 1835

From the journal of Miss Susanah Wellington (1819-1838) of Yeovil, Somersetshire. Her diary includes copies of letters and a record of the last few years of her life.

Susanah's beautifully neat copperplate writing is still readable after 180 years.

Susanah’s beautifully neat copperplate writing is still readable after 180 years.

We left the house at the shop early in September 1835 which was the same summer as I left school and commenced teaching.

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Susanah turned sixteen in the summer of 1835, she had finished her schooling and began teaching music lessons in Yeovil with her sister Jane. They taught the pianoforte and most likely music composition, harmony and voice accompaniment.

1835_paris_couture

The latest fashions for young ladies in 1835.

Pigot’s Trade Directory of Somerset 1830 lists George WELLINGTON, – Chymist and Druggist, Borough, Yeovil. Susanah’s father had a chemist shop in the Borough, which was in the centre of the market town. The family must have lived in the second and third storeys above the shop.

A pencil sketch from about 1810 of the Borough, Yeovil showing the Market House and Shambles. The artist is standing roughly where King George Street meets High Street today. Above the sign of the Greyhound Inn on the right can be seen a sign for a Grocer, Chemist, Druggist.

A pencil sketch from about 1810 of the Borough, Yeovil by G E Madeley, shows the Shambles on the left and the Market House to the right. George Wellington’s ‘Chymist and Druggist’ shop was situated in the Medical Hall visible behind the old Market House and the sign of the Greyhound Inn on the far right.

Susanah doesn’t tell us where in Yeovil the family moved to in 1835. They probably relocated to a larger house to accommodate their growing family.

Between 1835 and 1845 George WELLINGTON was expanding his business. He was in partnership with his eldest son, George Edwards WELLINGTON, and they opened a second shop in Glastonbury in about 1838. The General Directory for the County of Somerset 1840 lists George WELLINGTON & Son, Chemists & Druggists and also Grocers & Dealers in Sundries, with businesses in High Street, Glastonbury and the Borough, Yeovil.

High Street,Yeovil, Somerset - showing the Mermaid Inn and Fleur-de-Lys Hotels - 1839 by Henry Burn. On the far right is a Chemist, Grocer, Druggist shop.

This 1839 painting of High Street, Yeovil by Henry Burn (1807–1884) shows the Mermaid Inn archway and large overhanging sign on the left. The building on the other side of the street is Granger’s chemist and druggist shop.

The Wellington family relocated to Glastonbury for a few years in the late 1830s. Susanah developed consumption (pulmonary tuberculosis) and died there in June 1838.

The 1841 UK Census records the Wellington family living back in High Street, Yeovil. The household listed George WELLINGTON with six of his children – Jane, Fanny, Rosa, Lucy, Rebecca and Ellen. His wife Elizabeth was vacationing in Weymouth with her ladies maid, and his youngest son Frederick was away at boarding school. Also listed in the household were staff and servants – a druggist’s apprentice, three young shop hands and a ten year old female servant.

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Sources: Susanah Wellington’s Journal, BUCK family collection. You can read more about it here: susanah’s journal – somerset to sydney. Pigot’s Directory – Somersetshire 1830; General Directory for the County of Somerset 1840; UK Census OnlineThe History of Yeovil’s Pubs by Bob Osborn.

susanah’s journal – letter to mrs eason

From the journal of Miss Susanah Wellington (1819-1838) of Yeovil, Somersetshire. Her diary includes copies of letters and a record of the last few years of her life.

Letter to Mrs Eason, April 1835

Letter to Mrs Eason, April 1835

The copy of the letter the young ladies of Mrs Eason’s School wrote
to Mrs Eason when they presented her with a desk.

Yeovil April 1835

Dear Mrs Eason,

You undoubtedly feel very surprised at your presence being requested at this time. Need we tell you that your increasing kindness to us has long ’ere now made an indellible impression on our minds and we have frequently wished to testify how highly we appreciate it, by some memento of our affection.

We have found some little difficulty in deciding on something that would be as useful as ornamental, and we trust that we have at last selected an article which will be agreeable to your own taste. Allow us then to present you this desk as a small token of our united love and respect.

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1835 was the year Susanah WELLINGTON turned fifteen and the last year of her schooling. The graduating class gave a gift to Mrs Eason, the principal and benefactor of the school in the spring of 1835.

The desk may have been a portable table-top writing slope similar to one used by Jane Austen to write her manuscripts and letters.

Jane at her writing desk in a scene from the movie Miss Austen Regrets, starring Olivia Williams.

Jane at her sloped writing desk in a scene from the movie Miss Austen Regrets, starring Olivia Williams.

Small table-top writing desk from the Jane Austen Society of North America Photo Courtesy of the British Library [www.jasna.org/persuasions/announceP30.html]

Small table-top writing desk from the Jane Austen Society of North America. [Photo Courtesy of the British Library]

Or it’s possible it was a small ladies writing desk called a cheveret, which stood on dainty legs and had several drawers to hold paper and correspondence. They were often topped with a detachable book carrier. The lower drawer was fitted with compartments for pens and ink-wells.

George III satinwood cheveret, with a removable book carrier with fitted drawers. Estimated price today of £1500-£2000. [www.liveauctioneers.com/item/3026266].

George III satinwood cheveret, with a removable book carrier with fitted drawers. This beautifully-made piece is worth between £1500-£2000 today.

Everyone of good standing needed a handy writing desk. Letter writing was a daily ritual and an art form. Letters were the social media of the 1800s. It appears to me that Susanah’s transcriptions of letters were her study of correspondence suitable for any occasion. She was learning what to say, and also how to say it.

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Sources: Susanah Wellington’s Journal, BUCK family collection. You can read more about it here: susanah’s journal – somerset to sydneyJournal transcription by Terry HASTINGS. The British Museum website. Jane Austen Society of North America.

susanah’s journal – samson and sampson

From the journal of Miss Susanah WELLINGTON (1819-1838) of Yeovil, Somersetshire. Her diary includes school lessons, letters and a record of the last few years of her life.

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SW_BMD2_p48&49

In 1835-36 Susanah recorded details of some of her mother’s family. Her mum was Elizabeth WELLINGTON [née SAMSON] (1794-1865), the second wife of George WELLINGTON (1781-1847), Chemist and Druggist of Yeovil, Somerset.

I have found baptisms and marriages for this family recorded in parish registers as SAMSON and also SAMPSON. It often depended on which spelling the minister or parish clerk thought was correct. There are also a variety of spellings for first names. Susanah, Susannah and Susanna; Elizabeth and Elisabeth; Gerard and Gerrard.

Records show later generations of SAMSONs adopted the ‘P’ to become SAMPSON. Susanah spells the name SAMSON, I know from her journal she is quite literate and would have received the information ‘first-hand’ from her mother, so that’s the spelling I am using.

Elizabeth Samson died November 15th 1833, aged 69 years*
Gerard Samson died January 8th 1835, aged 78 years*
*Proverbs 14th 26 verse.  * I Corinthians 15 chap. 58 verse.

Elizabeth SAMSON [née GROVES] (1764-1833) and Gerard SAMSON (1757-1835) were Susanah WELLINGTON’s maternal grandmother and grandfather. They lived in Wayford, about 20 kilometres (12.5 miles) south-west of Yeovil in Somerset.

The Bible references may be the sermons delivered at their funerals, but more than likely they are inscriptions on their tombstones:

In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence, and his children shall have a place of refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for as much as you know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
I Corinthians 15:58

Levi Samson died August 17th 1835.

Levi SAMSON (1789-1835) was Susanah’s uncle, her mother Elizabeth’s older brother. Levi was 46-years-old when he died and was buried at Wayford, Somerset.

St Michael & All Angels Church at Wayford, Somerset

St Michael & All Angels Church at Wayford, Somerset

My Uncle Tom was married the 31st December 1835 and
My Aunt Mary and Uncle Tom left Wayford April the 1st 1836.

Thomas SAMSON (1806-1879) was another uncle. There is a record of a marriage licence being granted to Thomas SAMSON of Wayford, Somerset and Anne WARREN of Monkwood in the chapelry of Marshwood, Dorset on 28 December 1835.

If Tom’s wife was Anne, then who was Aunt Mary? Why did Aunt Mary and Uncle Tom leave Wayford three months later? An entry in Susanah’s Journal dated 16 January 1837 may help clear up this puzzle:

My Papa, Mamma, Aunt Mary, Uncle Smith & Tom went to Ludney to settle the Wayford business.

Aunt Mary is likely to be Mary SAMSON (a sister to Levi, Elizabeth and Tom). Upon the death of their father Gerard SAMSON in January 1835 the family estate would have been willed to the eldest son William SAMSON (1784-1851) or divided between the many children.

When Aunt Mary and Uncle Tom left Wayford in April 1836 they may have received a share of money after probate was granted on their father’s estate. It appears that they all returned in December that year to finally settle the division of the assets. I think this warrants further investigation, I might be able to find a record of the will or probate.

Sarah was married January 9th 1836.

Sarah was Susanah’s half-sister and the daughter of George WELLINGTON and his first wife Elizabeth EDWARDS. Sarah WELLINGTON married James DAVIS at the parish Church of St John the Baptist in Yeovil on the above date. Witnesses to the marriage were her brother George and sister Sophia WELLINGTON and James’s sister Ann DAVIS. Sarah was born in 1812 and died in 1902 in Hampshire at the age of 90.

Parish Church of St John, Yeovil. Its large arched windows let in so much light it was called ‘The Lantern of the West’.

Parish Church of St John the Baptist, Yeovil. Its large arched windows let in so much light it was called ‘The Lantern of the West’.

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Sources: Susanah Wellington’s Journal, BUCK family collection. You can read more about it here: susanah’s journal – somerset to sydneyYou can read other posts on members of the WELLINGTON family here: george wellington’s letters; susanah’s journal – births, deaths and marriages. The National Archives http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk

susanah’s journal – mottos

I found this page in Susanah’s journal a bit of a curiosity. A few strange words and shapes ruled off at the top and the rest of the page is left blank.

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When I first looked at it I could not make out any of the words except “Mottos” at the top. I think it may say a rose” to the right of a little doodle of a flower losing a petal. The only other English words I could see were “change” and the word in front of that might be Jane” – but the rest I couldn’t decipher.

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 Then the Eureka moment – it’s in French!

 “Je ne change qu’en mourant”

translates to

I change only in death

or

I will remain steadfast until death.

The hairs were standing up on the back of my neck – these are very prophetic words. The page is undated but sits chronologically within the notebook between 1834 and 1835. Susanah WELLINGTON was fourteen or fifteen-years-old at the time and had experienced her fair share of death. You can read more about the circumstances in these posts: susanah’s journal – births, deaths and marriages and diseases and remedies of the 1800s.

Terry HASTINGS is my distant cousin who was custodian of Susanah’s Journal before passing it on to me for safe keeping. I emailed him to share what I had discovered and to ask for his thoughts on what it might all mean. Terry replied with the following:

“Susanah was probably conversant in French through her education. It was considered an accomplishment of young ladies of the era and fits well with the music she both taught and learned at Mrs Eason’s school. “I change only in death” indicates awareness of her fate, resignation to her end and expectation of a heavenly reward for what must surely have been a pure and blameless life.

“The strong religious tone of the diary also complements the French motto, presaging the immortality of Susanah’s convictions. It was God’s will and she would therefore accept it. In an age when premature death was common, perhaps this was a consolation for the dying.

“The emblem of the rose is significant too isn’t it? It’s undefiled beauty is gradually withering just as a young lady’s life is gradually deteriorating.”

A poem and song The Last Rose of Summer by Irish poet Thomas MOORE would have been popular in the early 1800s. Moore wrote it in 1805 and Sir John STEVENSON set the words to music in 1813. 

‘Tis the last rose of summer,
Left blooming alone;
All her lovely companions
Are faded and gone;
No flower of her kindred,
No rosebud is nigh,
To reflect back her blushes,
Or give sigh for sigh.

I’ll not leave thee, thou lone one!
To pine on the stem;
Since the lovely are sleeping,
Go, sleep thou with them.
Thus kindly I scatter,
Thy leaves o’er the bed,
Where thy mates of the garden
Lie scentless and dead.

So soon may I follow,
When friendships decay,
And from Love’s shining circle
The gems drop away.
When true hearts lie withered,
And fond ones are flown,
Oh! who would inhabit
This bleak world alone?

The words reflect the shortness of life and the ‘bleak world’ the rose inhabited. This is more than likely the message to be found in Susanah’s little rose sketch. The circle with the initials is still a mystery to me.

“Vous” (You)
O. L. P. or O. J. P.
“Mes” (My)
I. D. or J. D.

It may indicate a secret love interest or could be simply a tribute to her loving family. The initials are perplexing as they do not seem to relate to anyone mentioned before in the journal or any other family members. As Susanah had great faith it might be a religious motto. Capital D at the end may stand for “Dieu” (God).

If you have come across anything similar and you can shed light on these little encryptions, please let me know. I would be grateful for your help.

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Sources: Susanah Wellington’s Journal, BUCK family collection. Her diary includes school lessons, letters and a record of the last few years of her life between 1832-1838. You can read more about it here: susanah’s journal – somerset to sydney. Many thanks to Terry HASTINGS for his contribution to this article.